Founded in 1979 in Bay City, Michigan by boxing promoter Art Dore, the Toughman Contest is a chance for the novice amateur fighters (those with no more than 5 sanctioned wins in the past 5 years) to test themselves in the ring.
Using standard boxing rules, 16 oz. gloves, headgear, and 3 rounds of 1 minute with a 60-second rest period, The Original Toughman Contest plays across the US in between 75 and 100 cities each year and culminates with the World Championship which in 2008 is slated for Sam's Town Casino in Tunica, MS.
Tournaments feature the local residents of a particular city (generally, participants must live within a 75-mile radius of where the event is to be held) who are at least 18 years of age, pass a standard boxing physical, and meet any other requirements of the State's Boxing Commissions' regulations, and also sign a waiver freeing the parent company from liability. The waiver is mentioned because the rare safety issues have attracted unfavorable press reports. Since 1979, according to the Journal of Combative Sports, both the Original Toughman Contest and other contests using the elimination tournament format comprise only 1 % of all boxing deaths (Since its inception in 1979, the Original Toughman Contest has had only seven deaths while derivative contests account for a known 10, according to the Journal.) Some states, like Florida and Missouri do not sanction Toughman but do license mixed martial arts - or cage fighting- an event many people confuse with the Original Toughman Contest.
Additionally, The Original Toughman Contest is often mistaken with other elimination tournaments and therefore bears the media brunt for those contests which sometimes illegally use the trademarked name, or derivatives of it. Toughman holds events only in states that have rules or state code permitting the format.
Toughman made Art Dore a celebrity and generated a Twentieth Century Fox movie called Tough Enough which starred Dennis Quaid and was about Dore and the boxing phenomenon he conceived after finding the crowds wanted to see ordinary people fight.
Toughman alumni include Mr. T; Tommy Morrison; Eric "Butterbean" Esch; and from the fall of 2006, the winner of the "Contender Television Series," the former Lawton, OK Toughman Contest Champion, Grady "Bad Boy" Brewer. Among them is also Maine State Representative Chris Greeley, who fought in 1996, and who was recently elected to a third term in the Maine House of Representatives.
1994 World Champion -Eric Esch aka Butterbean
2003 Champion -Daniel White
2005 World Championship Results
Aubrey Bickerstaff (14-0 5 ko's) is the 2005 World Toughman Light-Heavyweight Champion by defeating Ryan Carroll (13-3 9 ko's)
Glen Sovich (record unknown) is the 2005 World Toughman Heavyweight Champion by defeating Ray Carpenter (8-2)
2006 World Championship Results
Joshua Brown (38-3) is the 2006 World Light-Heavyweight Toughman Champion by defeating Mike Tufariello (record unknown) via Unanimous Decision
Lee McGinnis (15-1) is the 2006 World Heavyweight Toughman Champion by defeating Devo Devuono (30-4) via KO in the 2nd round
2008 World Championship Results
Aubrey Bickerstaff (17-0) defeated Jamal Rogers to win the Light-Heavyweight title
Lee McGinnis (20-1) is the 2008 World Heavyweight Toughman Champion by defeating Darrell Ellis (record unknown) via Unanimous Decision.This is Lee McGinnis second straight World Heavyweight Toughman Championship. No World Toughman Championships was held in 2007.
Toughman Contest back in tri-states; East Dubuque: Hosting slug- fests is a bad idea for a community trying to improve its image
Jul 29, 2001; When the Dubuque City Council took a long, hard look at the Toughman Contest and decided it was not the sort of event that should...
Toughman Contest 'as safe as possible,' creator says; East Dubuque event: Arthur Dore says that in about 120 contests per year there are seldom serious injuries
Aug 17, 2001; EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. - The man who created the Toughman Contest acknowledged that the elimination boxing competition can be...